Sunday, June 14, 2015

O, Florida...

Florida: A
Rising seas has the Greater Miami region's aquifers in danger of salty contamination with flooding, old infrastructure, and underwater ground flow through porous limestone bedrock.  Already, in some places throughout Florida, blurry ribbons of saline cloud the bottom of pristine freshwater springs.  Already, in some places limestone bedrock caves in forming sinkholes, swallowing houses and depleting property value.  Already, we know that the thin, porous bedrock is weakened from irresponsible irrigation practices, reckless property developers, and an overall disregard for the health of the land.

Worries of depleted drinking water, flooding, and sinkholes fall to silence in the dense, egocentric discussions of politicians and a greed-laced, shortsightedness of developers and businesses. 

To see the extent of Florida's self inflicted societal wounds and complete lack of regard for homeowners financial and physical safety, I point to the existence of what some local papers began calling "Zombie pools"--the festering swimming pools of foreclosed homes, neglected for sometimes years in legal limbo between its' owners eviction and banks reclaiming the property. 
Florida: B

While foreclosed homes sitting in limbo is a national issue, Florida's tropical location complicates things. The cesspools formed in backyards across the state are attracting hoards of mosquitoes and, in turn, mosquito-borne viruses.  Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, and West Nile have been the most recent threats and seeing that political action is about as stagnant as the zombie pools themselves, more are likely to pop up.

Some steps have been taken.  Depending on the location of the pools, Mosquito Control can use insecticide in spray or pill form, or even release mosquito-eating fish depending on the state of the water.

But all of this is subsequent to the issues at hand -- people being evicted from their homes long before banks can even take full responsibility of them.  Then, the responsibility falls on the hands of the state, and the pockets of tax payers.  Top it off with a massive influx of new year-round mosquito nesting grounds and nature proves again that in the tropics, human error comes at an even higher cost than elsewhere.

It's about time Florida starts acknowledging it's geography and enacting policies and protections that reflect the uniqueness of its' location.  Mini-mansions can't be built on porous land, known to be prone to sink holes.  Golf courses and farms can't routinely suck water straight out of underground aquifers without strategic planning and infrastructure to protect the land and water supply.  Politicians and developers can't continue ignoring the incredibly unique geography and climate of their state, and homeowners can't sit idly by, willingly blind to the contradictions of their tropical paradise, while they foot the bill for a broken system. 

Hmm...does Florida has a case of DE(west)NIAL?? Good one, right?!

Florida: C
Florida: D

This is the original Florida painting. Ouch. 

Here are links to some of the articles and things I read to get my info:

Re Learn

What do you do when your brain feels deflated?  How do you keep up with the pace of the world when all momentum, body and mind, wants to take a multi year long break? 

You re-learn to paint! 

I have used water colors before, but only for school assignment--never anything personal.  So I sat down a month or two ago with a pile of water color poster board and some cheap water colors and here's what I found:

Water colors are difficult, beautiful, and instantly gratifying.  In one sitting, I could start and complete a painting.  Did they look nice?  No.  Regardless, it's done, and you move on.  

This was my first one:

A jelly fish?  Abstracted?

In this instance, I was seeing what the materials can do.  How saturated can they get?  How dark, and how light?  What does white do?  My favorite part of this piece-of-shit painting is the upper left corner.  Somehow an underwater kelp forest appeared, which I will probably turn into a piece on its' own.  

Playtime is so important. 

A glass sponge...practice for an upcoming commission.

These next few, I might have posted earlier.  I've managed to collect a small assortment of Calcite crystals in my studio that, along with laser pointers, have been a fun source of inspiration for me recently.  I painted a few and learned along the way the importance of simplifying what you see and making committed decisions about lines:

Another great thing about water colors -- blank space can be utilized as an important part of composition.  You know, serious zen stuff. 

The last of my "early" water colors is this weird little gem.  It's supposed to be the water table under New York City and the pipelines leading up through our buildings.  I wish I hadn't included a badly painted plant on the side, but now I know.

More to come soon....

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Paintings for Gma

Last week was my grandma's 80th birthday!  So, I painted her some images from the English countryside on small wooden planks.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Art block, Life block

Since the start of the year, I've found myself in the midst of an artistic moment of change.  New York, being the unforgiving aggressive city that it is, isn't the best place to have a second to reflect or figure things out. 

My 2014 ended after quitting my job, going to an AMAZING artist residency, then working for around 70 days straight at an exhausting retail gig that ended in early January.  Then I treated myself to a week-long trip to Puerto Rico. 

These are all great things. Really, really great.  But now, I've found myself in a mirror of 2012 --unemployed-ish and artistically stuck -- just slightly older and slightly less tolerant of shitty work of both the artistic and money-making kind.  There will always be moments like this in my life, I'm pretty aware of that now, but the good thing is that now I might have the tools to make the best of it. 

I've been running after any and all interests that I have.  No plan, just diving blindly: 

 Sculpted a whale bulla (ear bone), bought some calcite and optical spar crystals, and a painted sketch of crystals in the background. 

 Fossils (Megladon teeth, a Trilobite, some weird oceanic things), a U.S. map with the Mississippi River marked, and a sketch of the whale ear bone. 

Then I bought laser pointers:

 Oooo, look at that purple laser turn green in the calcite!

It's hard to see, but this green laser turns orange. They change to their complimentary color, I suppose.

Red stays red, though.

Will this lead somewhere? Who knows...

Wolf paintings

Here are the final paintings and prints from my project with the Wolf Conservation Center!

These packs of cards were really well-received.  I'll probably bring them back and expand on it next winter.

This is the largest wolf painting I did for this project.  It's around 24 x 30 inches and depicts a Mexican Grey Wolf which has had a shaky reintroduction in the Southwestern U.S.  The constant battle with wolf reintroduction is how they're viewed culturally, which has changed from one of god-like wisdom and strength to fear, gluttony, and deviousness. Both views are based in spirituality and are at the heart of the wolf debate. 

It can take minutes, hours, or days—a delicate balance of physical and mental strength by the entire pack is needed to overwhelm a 1 - 2,000 lb animal.   This painting, and the rest, are all small, around 8 x 10 inch.

The precious land encased in Yellowstone National Park lays against land owned by states pushing for less regulation on wolf hunting and species protection. Though their legal protection changes past the parks invisible boundary, wolves recognize no sovereign line.  

This is Atka, resting and being sweet. Fear and misunderstanding are the largest threats to a thriving wolf population.

The Red Wolf became extinct around 1980 because of intensive predator control programs. 14 were captured by biologists before their extinction for breeding programs.   

Deforestation, road building, and persecution of the Red Wolves in the South Eastern United States pushed the species into extinction in the wild by the 1980's. They were reintroduction to Alligator River Wildlife Refuge in coastal North Carolina where approximately 100 exist today in an unsteady and uncertain climb to a healthy population.

This is the new puppy, Nikaii. 
To reintroduce a wolf into the wild, a pup of the same species is released outside of a den housing pups of a similar age. The mother will always adopt the new pup and raise it as her own. 

This is Zyphyr! He's may be my favorite. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Moose with Ticks

Lately, environmentalists, residents, and tourists from New Hampshire to Minnesota have been distraught over the relatively sudden decline of their iconic lone herbivore, the moose. Theories were raised—have wolves killed off the population? Over-hunting? Disease?

The answer? Ticks.

Conservationists have repeatedly found moose who have chewed off chunks of fur, exposing pale skin, abraded and pocked with sometimes over 100,000 plump winter ticks. These “zombie-moose” are quite literally sucked dry of blood, only to fade away, anemic, weak, and manic from the thousands of parasites biting at their skin. Given that moose are solitary animals, they end up dying alone deep in the woods, making them difficult to find for scientific research.

Typically, along the southern fringe of American moose territory, long, snowy winters keep the moose population abundant and ticks in check. But with global warming, the balance is tipping. Deer, who can live in warmer climates, have evolved to constantly groom, a practice ridding them of excessive parasites.  Moose however, don't have this instinctual habit and have not been given the time to develop it.

I heard this story first on PBS Newshour, and was immediately hooked. I love the mystery of it—the allure of a silent killer—and resounding shock and disgust of a harmful species gluttonous and cheering at our warming planet. The threat to us is real.  Ticks spread disease, as do many other parasitic creatures.  As their numbers rise, the possibility of getting bit and infected by a virus or bacteria will surely increase. 

Perhaps it's time to shed the imagery of polar bears and icebergs and adopt a new poster-child for global warming: pests and parasites—the silent and stealthy vectors of disease.

"Moose with Ticks" 48x26 inch, oil on canvas

Hope you enjoy the painting!  I will post my preliminary drawings later...I left my sketchbook in's currently in the mail on its way back to me. 

Here is the PBS Newshour clip: 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Surfing Swans

A refreshing reminder that not everything has to be backed by concrete biological reasoning.  Fun is fun!